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Two New Names Emerge in Steelers Linebacker Room



Steelers LB Blake Martinez
Steelers LB Blake Martinez at his first practice with the team, Nov. 22, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — The Steelers are looking for some help at the inside linebacker position, and that will likely come from the veterans they have in the room already. Blake Martinez and Myles Jack were each brought in to help aid in the case of injuries, and with Elandon Roberts’ groin injury making him questionable, that scenario has now come up.

When they were added, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said the Steelers made those signings for this scenario. It’s unsurprising, especially when Austin made it a keynote that the group expects Martinez to have a legitimate role in the defense at some point this season.

“Yes, we’ll continue to bring him along,” Austin said. “We’ll continue to see where he may fit in with us. I’m assuming — and I think that at some point he’ll have a hat on, and he’ll have an opportunity to help us. What that is right now or this week, I’m not sure.”

Martinez was recently un-retired after retiring last November, and he joined the Panthers’ practice squad after a tryout on November 6th. Martinez has played all over the NFL, but he spent his most productive years in New York with the Giants and in Green Bay with the Packers. He is a hammer to the nail, similar to Roberts stylistically.

On Monday, head coach Mike Tomlin announced that Martinez and Jack will be prepped to play. Without Roberts, they lost their true quarterback and, more importantly, the fluidity in communication. Having those veterans is necessary for scenarios where the team falls flat.

“Guys like Blake Martinez, Myles Jack who are in our program and having the ability to call upon some guys with NFL playing experience, but not only playing experience, but huddle with communication experience. We lost our defensive quarterback when Elandon went down with the injury,” Tomlin said. “Coupled with the fact that we had previously lost Cole and Kwon in previous weeks really put a strain on us at that position in playmaking and communication”

Roberts is a fantastic processor who is better than I think anyone realized. Even in coverage, he competes. I think he can do that a lot better than people think. But he highlights what Walker can not do well and allows him to show out, so his injury is massive.

“When you lose a guy like that, it’s a big loss,” Walker said. “We know what he brings, but you just have to be the nest man up. You know, communication wasn’t as good as it could have been. I put that on me.”

With Roberts out, the communication snowballed. The Steelers had a few lousy run fits and a few times where they did not get the front set, allowing the runs to spring out. More than that, the team’s tackling display was horrid. Walker had a challenging game there, too. James Conner is a fantastic, elusive back, but this tackling display was one of the worst of the season. As such, Martinez and Jack will hope to give the Steelers a boost on defense once they come into the fold.